Tech Law Journal Daily E-Mail Alert
April 6, 2001, 8:00 AM ET, Alert No. 160.
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Internet Tax Scams
4/5. The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing titled "Taxpayer Beware: Schemes, Scams and Cons" that examined tax avoidance scams that are promoted via the Internet. Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) said in his opening statement [PDF] that "Tax scams are as old as the tax code. The Internet is giving them a thriving new life. The number of participants in these tax scams is growing like a weed. The Internet is greatly helping that growth. The Internet gives these tax con artists the unprecedented ability to reach out to millions of households cheaply and easily." See also, prepared statements of witnesses in PDF: Aaron Bazar (former seller of tax scams), JJ MacNab (American Bar Association), Robert Sommers (attorney), Jay Adkisson (financial adviser), Joseph Hodges (ABA), Hugh Stevenson (FTC, Bureau of Consumer Protection), and Michael Brostek (GAO).
Democratic Tech Agenda
4/5. Congressional Democratic leaders and the Progressive Policy Institute released a document titled Democrats' High Tech Agenda [PDF]. The agenda includes 10 points:
1. Make broadband Internet available to every American by the end of the decade.
2. Help all regions take full advantage of information technology to prosper.
3. Keep costs of access to information technology low and within everyone’s reach.
4. Increase federal support for basic research and development.
5. Support science and technology programs and strong intellectual property protection.
6. Improve math and science education for our children and ensure their computer literacy by the sixth grade.
7. Encourage companies to invest more in training and recruitment, and help workers develop the information technology skills they need.
8. Foster E-business with secure networks and workable solutions to protect personal privacy.
9. Smooth the transition to the Information Age by updating policies on exports, trade, Internet taxation, immigration and small business.
10. Foster E-government to improve efficiency and speed public interactions with government.
See also, statement by House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-MO).
More News
4/5. The USITC held a Section 337 evidentiary hearing regarding the importation of semiconductor chips with minimized chip package size. See, notice of investigation. (Inv. No. 337-TA-432.)
4/5. The USTR's published a notice in the Federal Register stating that its Trade Policy Staff Committee is soliciting public comments on U.S. objectives and preparations for the upcoming meeting of the WTO Ministerial Conference in Doha, Qatar, on November 9-13, 2001. Comments are due by May 10, 2001. See, Federal Register, April 5, 2001, Vol. 66, No. 66,  at Pages 18142 - 18143.
4/5. Verizon named Michael Boland to be its SVP for Federal Government Relations. Boland was previously CEO of Boland & Madigan; before that was chief counsel and floor assistant to Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS); and, before that was counsel to the House Commerce Committee. See, Verizon release.
4/5. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the nominations of Larry Thompson to be Deputy Attorney General and Theodore Olson to be Solicitor General.
New Documents
PPI: Democrats' High Tech Agenda, 4/5 (PDF, Gephardt).
Brownback: S 696, the Third Generation Wireless Internet Act, 4/4 (HTML, TLJ).
Bush: speech re PRC trade, e-mail, and other topics, 4/5 (HTML, WH).
HCC: Rept. 107-41 Pt. 1 on HR 718, the Unsolicited Commercial Electronic Mail Act, 4/4 (HTML, LibCong).
Quote of the Day
"I'll give you one area, though, where I'm very cautious, and that's about e-mailing. I used to be an avid e-mailer, and I e-mailed to my daughters or e-mailed to my father, for example. And I don't want those e-mails to be in public -- in the public domain.  So I don't e-mail any more, out of concern for freedom of information laws, but also concern for my privacy."

President George Bush, April 5. See, transcript.
Cyber Security
4/5. The House Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing titled "Protecting America's Critical Infrastructures: How Secure are Government Computer Systems?" Full committee Chairman Billy Tauzin (R-LA) said in his opening statement that "I don't think that many people realize the extent to which our Federal civilian agencies collect and store such sensitive information -- whether it is medical, financial or otherwise personal information of American citizens, confidential or proprietary data from America's corporations, cutting edge scientific research or export controlled information, or even sensitive law enforcement data." See also, prepared statements of witnesses:
 • Robert Dacey (General Accounting Office), who stated that "federal computer systems are riddled with weaknesses that continue to put critical operations and assets at risk."
 • Glenn Podonsky (U.S. Department of Energy), who provided demonstration of cyber security penetration capabilities.
 • Ron Dick (FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center), who stated that "Currently we have 102 cases (of a current total of 1,219 pending cases) involving computer intrusions into government systems. This includes intrusions into federal, state and local systems, as well as the military. It should be noted that a single case can consist of hundreds of compromised systems that have experienced thousands of intrusions."
 • Sallie McDonald (GSA), who stated "that over 100 countries have or are developing information warfare capabilities that could be used to target critical components of the national infrastructure including government systems."
 • John Tritak (Department of Commerce).
 • Tom Noonan (Internet Security Systems, Inc). 
Spam Bill Report
4/4. The House Commerce Committee issued its report on HR 718, the Unsolicited Commercial Electronic Mail Act of 2001, sponsored by Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) and Rep. Gene Green (D-TX). (See, Rept. 107-41 Pt. 1).
3G & Spectrum Caps
4/4. Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) introduced S 696, the Third Generation Wireless Internet Act, a bill to prohibit the FCC from applying spectrum aggregation limits to spectrum auctioned after December 31, 2000. The bill was referred to the Senate Commerce Committee. Sen. Brownback stated that the "wireless industry is fast approaching a crossroads where it will transition from voice and text messaging services to a marriage of wireless mobility with the power of the Internet and broadband Internet access: the ability to deliver voice, video, and data simultaneously over one wireless device. This transition will be made possible by the deployment of third generation technology, commonly referred to as "3G," which combines wireless mobility with transmission speeds and capacity resembling that of the broadband pipes being laid primarily in urban markets by wireline companies." See, Brownback statement.
Computer & Software Tax Treatment
4/4. Rep. Jerry Weller (R-IL) introduced HR 1411, a bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow qualified technological equipment and computer software to be expensed. It was referred to the House Way and Means Committee, of which Rep. Weller is a member.
More New Bills
4/4. Rep. Phil English (R-PA) introduced HR 1446, the Standard Trade Negotiating Authority Act of 2001, a bill to provide trade negotiating authority, but not fast track authority. The bill was referred to the Ways and Means Committee and the Rules Committee. Rep. English issued a release which states that "The bill mandates extensive cooperation between the president and Congress in negotiating trade bills. The plan also exempts negotiations under the World Trade Organization from the preauthorization process."
4/4. Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) introduced HR 1484, a bill to implement the a U.S. Jordan Free Trade Agreement [19 pages in PDF]. The agreement, which may serve as a model for future agreements, covers, among other things, intellectual property rights and electronic commerce, and well as labor and environmental issues. The bill was referred to the Ways and Means Committee and the Judiciary Committee.
4/4. Rep. Ernest Istook (R-OK) introduced HR 1410 a bill which the Congressional Record described as "a bill to foster innovation and technological advancement in the development of the Internet and electronic commerce, and to assist the States in simplifying their sales and use taxes". It was referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
4/4. Rep. John LaFalce (D-NY) introduced HR 1416, a bill to provide grants and other incentives to promote new communications technologies. It was referred to the House Commerce Committee.
Bush on PRC Trade
4/5. President Bush gave an speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors. He addressed trade with the PRC in response to a question. He said: "I believe that China ought to be a trading partner of ours. I think it's in our economic interests to open up the Chinese markets to U.S. products, to U.S. agricultural products. I not only believe it's in our economic interest, I believe it's in our interest to promote U.S. values. And I believe the marketplace promotes values. When people get a taste of freedom in the marketplace, they tend to demand other freedoms in their societies. And so, I'm an advocate of China's entering into the WTO and I'm hopeful that the current situation ends quickly and our people come home. China is a strategic partner, a strategic competitor. But that doesn't mean we can't find areas in which we can partner. And the economy's a place where we can partner. And we've got some differences with China, long-term differences, spreading of weapons of mass destruction is an issue that we need to work with the Chinese on, as well as other nations in that part of the world. Human rights is an issue, but I believe trade will encourage more freedom, particularly when it comes to individual liberties. The marketplace is -- the marketplace unleashes the opportunity for people to make choices, and so I continue to push for trade with China, and -- " See, transcript.
PRC Hostages & PNTR
4/4. Many Members of Congress commented on the effect of the PRC hostage crisis on trade relations. Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL) stated that "Although Congress voted to provide China with permanent normal trade relations last year, the law also requires Congress to grant a temporary extension of normal trade relations if China does not become a member of the WTO by June 3. The Chinese are not likely to meet that deadline so the President will have to recommend a temporary extension of normal trade relations status for one more year. ... If the current situation continues much longer, I don't see how Members of Congress could possibly vote to give China an extension of trade privileges. We need to send a clear message to the Chinese government." See, release. Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) said "I have supported free trade with China and engagement with China's people. That and more is at risk, and not all of it is under the control of the President and his administration. In the coming months this House may consider China's access to the WTO, arms sales to Taiwan, military to military, cultural and scientific exchanges, as well as an array of other issues important to China." Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) said "This reckless aggression, the forced landing of our disabled plane, and now the holding of our crew and plane as hostages, and now China's belligerence is outrageous. It violates international agreements that China has signed; it damages U.S.-China relations." Rep. Dave Weldon (R-FL) said "I would encourage every American who is going to go shopping over the next few days to look at the labels on the products they are going to purchase and see if it is made in the U.S.A."
Universal Service and the Internet
4/5. The Universal Service Forum of the Consumer Energy Council of America (CECA) wrote a report on universal service funding, an ancient system of federally mandated subsidies and cross-subsidies in the telecommunications industry, that is now codified in Section 254 of the Communications Act. The report addresses extending the reach of the program to include Internet services. The CECA published an executive summary of the report, but not the report itself, in its web site.
10:00 AM. The U.S. Court of Appeals (Fed Cir) will hear oral argument in Allvoice Computing v. Dragon Systems, Appeal No. 00-1428. Location: Courtroom 402.
10:00 AM. The U.S. Court of Appeals (Fed Cir) will hear oral argument in Goldtouch Technologies v. Microsoft, Appeal No. 00-1430. Location: Courtroom 201.
12:15 PM. The Federal Communications Bar Association will hold a wireless luncheon. The topic will be the role of the NTIA in spectrum management. The price is $15. RSVP to Arlice Johnson.
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